Keyword: Dragonfly


Keywords are at the heart of organizing your images in Lightroom. We've discussed keywords many times. But it's always a good idea to revisit topics like this from time to time.

There is still much room for improvement in the way Lightroom handles its keywords. As you know, that list of keywords can get rather lengthy as your Catalog grows. Many of you know that you can create hierarchies of keywords by nesting keywords within another. So, instead of  a flat list like

  • animal
  • mammal
  • dog
  • puppy

you could nest these and get a hierarchy like this

  • animal
  •   mammal
  •     dog
  •       puppy

From this we can tell that PUPPY is a DOG, DOG is a MAMMAL, and MAMMAL is an ANIMAL. Not only can we collapse these hierarchies in the keyword list making it a little more manageable. As a bonus, if we set our preferences, we can assign PUPPY and our image will get ANIMAL, MAMMAL, and DOG automatically as containing keywords.

The quick way to create a hierarchy is to use one of three special characters >|< when entering your keywords. If you've done this before you should know that Lightroom 5 has changed how it interprets these characters. Let's look at an example from Lightroom 4.


In Lightroom 4 if you entered a>b>c it was interpreted as  a is contained in b and b is contained in c. That seemed backwards to most folks given the direction of the > character. If you wanted a hierarchy of d contains e and e contains f you would enter d|e|f instead. Lightroom 4 did not do anything special with the < character so entering g<h<i you got a single keyword.

Lightroom 5 changed this.


Now both > and | create "contains" hierarchies. So a>b>c creates a contains b and b contains c. Entering d|e|f does the same thing. If you want a "contained in" hierarchy, Lightroom 5 now allows the < character. So, g<h<i creates g is contained in h and h is contained in i.

If you haven't visited keywords in a while now is the time to get make in there and keyword your images. Remember you can quickly get to the enter keyword panel with Command K (CTRL K in Windows).

So get out there and keyword away!